People of all ages helped the South Bend United Methodist Church package over 10,000 dehydrated meals for people in need on Saturday as part of a collaboration with Rise Against Hunger.
The initiative, which collectively served over 72.1 million meals across 36 countries in 2017, aims to assist developing countries and disaster relief efforts by sending dehydrated food internationally every year.
This was the fourth time South Bend contributed, and according to church member Beverly Long, the community has been coming in droves to help out each year.
“Actually, we can only use about 50 volunteers at a time and then we run out of space,” Long said. “So, we don’t really have room to do anymore, but we’d like to.”
Long says around 46 people showed up on Saturday, both from within South Bend’s congregation and outside of it.
Karen Travis, a member of Cleveland United Methodist Church, said she has made an annual tradition of helping South Bend package food, and hopes it helps people in what she views as a trying time for the community.
“As a nurse I’m always interested in ways to help people,” Travis said. “I think in our country today there’s just so much animosity and people protesting. Well, my philosophy is don’t protest, do something in your community to fix it. And if there’s hungry people in the world and there’s anything I can do to help then I’m all for it. And what, I give up a couple hours once a year? That’s the minimum that anyone should do.”
The food packages are primarily comprised of rice, soy and dried vegetables, as well as a nutritional packet to help the digestive system, which can suffer complications after long periods of malnutrition. Each package of these low-cost ingredients can serve up to six people.
South Bend member Phil Wofford says he hopes events like the church’s packaging event will not only raise awareness of world hunger, but also help people who are more fortunate to appreciate what they have.
“If you were to go in and see what we’re packaging for the people to eat, we’ve got a cup of one product, we’ve got a spoonful of another product, we’ve got a cup of another product, and that feeds six,” Wofford said. “You and I spill that much at night when we eat. It means a lot to me to feed the hungry.”
Long says that in previous years, South Bend’s contributions to Rise Against Hunger have helped people in Turkey and Bolivia, but she won’t know where meals packaged in 2019 will go until they’re needed and transported. While much of Rise Against Hunger’s work has helped with people in developing countries, the organization also has helped with disaster relief here in the United States. This recently included sending food to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as cleaning and baby supplies during Hurricane Florence.
Rise Against Hunger was founded in 1998 under the name Stop Hunger before rebranding in 2017. The organization hopes to continue provide food and emergency relief to those in need and to end hunger by the year 2030 in accordance with the United Nation Sustainable Development Goal #2.